The UCSB women’s basketball team saw its toughest competition to date last night against Pac-12 opponent USC, which proved to be too much to handle as the Gauchos fell 62-51.

With the loss, UCSB dropped to 2-4 while USC improved to 3-2.

“They’re well-coached, they’re bigger, and they’re stronger than we were tonight, so you have to give them a lot of credit for the win,” Head Coach Carlene Mitchell said.

The Trojans earned their win from behind the three-point line, shooting 56.2 percent, a much higher percentage than their average of 30.6 percent.

“They shot nine out of 16,” Mitchell said. “It was definitely the difference in the game.”

While the Gauchos typically stick with a man-to-man defense, they played a zone much of the game to try to handle a bigger Trojan team. However, USC used excellent passing to find the open man on a Santa Barbara defense that typically ranks No. 20 nationally in three-point defense at 20.3 percent.

“That’s not our personality to play a lot of zone,” Mitchell said. “They haven’t shot it extremely well in their first four games, so we thought we might mix it up a little bit more than usual.That’s always a chance you take.”

The Gauchos were especially undersized with their two centers, senior Kirsten Tilleman and freshman Jessica Pino, sitting on the sidelines with injuries.

“Well I think it’s obvious [not having them] made a major impact,” Mitchell said. “Tilleman [averages] eight rebounds a game, so that put the burden on Lei and Sweets, who had to guard a powerful post presence on the low block.”

Nevertheless, UCSB made the end interesting, bringing the game within just six points with 1:19 remaining. However, the Trojans answered with none other than a three-pointer, icing the game.

“I felt we didn’t come out in the first half the way we needed to,” senior guard Angelei Aguirre said. “We needed to redeem ourselves and play hard [in the second half ].”

To start the game, UCSB jumped out to an early 18-17 lead. However, USC put together a 20-4 run to end the first half and begin the second half to give the team a 37-22 lead.

“They were taking a lot of switches in everything we were running with screen and rolls, which is a major part of our offense,” Mitchell said. “We didn’t recognize the times of mismatches and I think we hit the panic button a little too quickly, so sometimes we were taking quick shots and should’ve executed a little longer.”

Aguirre and freshman forward Kendra Morrison led the charge with Morrison tallying 11 points on the game, all of which came in the second half. Aguirre put the team on her back in the final period, running the point and scoring 11 of her 13 points.

“I just wanted to do anything I could to help us win and get back into the game, so I guess today that meant scoring points,” Aguirre said. “Any way I can help our team win is what I’m going to do.”

UCSB’s next game will be Saturday against St. Mary’s.

A version of this article appeared on page 5 of November 28th, 2012’s print edition of the Nexus.